Excerpt: Osric’s Curse

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It looks like you all really enjoyed the last excerpt I posted. I don’t have anything new on the current WIP, but this is from my NaNoWriMo project in 2016. It’s available on Wattpad, but I thought I’d bring one of my favorite parts over here. Hope you enjoy. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below or through email!

“So if we are at a crossroads, where does it lead?”
“To the magick world, where nothing mundane can survive.”
“Well if that isn’t just ominous….”
“But true.” The annoying black cat looked up from it’s bathing. “I’ve tried to bring mice to do me when I knew Ric and I were going to be over there for a while, and they poofed as soon as we crossed the threshold.”
“Gross, dude.” I made fake vomiting sounds just to piss Merlin off. He was always so easy to make angry. “I remember! I used to fake puking just to make you angry, all those years ago! Then I’d laugh my self to pieces while the adults looked at me like I’d lost my mind. All except you, Pops…”
“I knew what you were doing the whole time!” He laughed heartily. “I found it rather amusing. I did the same thing when I was young, to tell the truth!”
“I can’t imagine you as a child, Pops. I don’t know why it is, but you seem to have lived more lives than the average grandfather. You’re tales of the past always seemed to be of times ancient and long gone.”
“Some of them were, Ricky. Though I tried to dress them up to seem closer to the modern age. Did I fail that badly?”
“Well, you’d sometimes forget what names you’d used and slip back to the ancient names…some of whom are pretty famous now.”
“Such an eye and ear for details, boy. That is going to serve you well as a wizard. But we don’t have as much time as I’d like to spend on your teaching, even taking into account the way time moves differently in a crossroads like this.”
“I’m still not convinced I’m sane, yet.”
Grandfather slammed his hand down on the table. “Confound it, boy. We really don’t have time for this. If what I think is happening is actually happening, the fate of every wizard, witch and mundane could be at stake! I hope that I’m wrong, but what if I’m right, boy! What then? It will take both of us, and many more, to stop the affliction that is spreading throughout Magica and treating to spill into the mundane world!”
“What would you have me do, Grandfather?” I was mortified. Pops never lost his temper, so I knew something major was going on. I knew that I had to at least go along for now. I had to see where this was leading.
“Read these,” he started laying out books and scrolls. “They are the most basic beginnings of magic. They will teach you how to control your abilities and how to work out what your abilities actually are. No two wizards have exactly the same skills. Once you finish these, wait for me to return. Do not read a single letter or word or anything out loud my boy. Words do have power. They can make things happen and until you know which words can do what, don’t say them.”
“Yes, sir. I will be very careful not to speak anything in these books and scrolls.”
“Very good Ricky. I will be back very soon. Read a swiftly as you can, you will retain everything just like your brain was a photocopier. Only much better when it comes times to use what you have read.”
I looked up from reading. I had made it through about a quarter of the stack Pops had laid out. My eyes felt like I’d been reading for days. Oh, and I was starving.
As if he could read my mind, Merlin looked at me and said, “Think about what you want to eat and drink. If you want it badly enough, it will show up.”
“Sure. And pigs will fly…”
“Didn’t you hear with your grandfather said, fool…. be careful what you say!”
“Okay okay okay… sheesh! I could use a good cheeseburger and some fries. An ice cold soda would be amazing too.”
“Well, think about it hard enough, and you’ll get it.”
“I’m sure I will” I rolled my eyes and went back to reading.
I finished the book I was on fairly quickly… I think. Time was impossible to measure in that room. When I looked up to grab the next thing to read, I saw a plate with a burger and fries plus a cup of soda beside it.
“I told you so”
“Shut up, you smarmy cat!” I started eating, forgetting about Pops rush for me to learn all this mess.
By the time I finished all the books and scrolls Pops had set out for me, my head was banging and my eyes felt like sand dunes in my head.
I looked around and saw the couch I had work up on earlier. “Merlin, do you think Pops will be back very soon? I’m exhausted and could use a nap.”
“I can slow time even further in here for you, Ricky. Lay down and rest. You’ve done well today. Ric will be very proud of you.”
“Thanks, Merlin. I’m sorry I ever stopped talking to you. I really did forget you could talk. Forgive me?”
“I knew it would happen, just like I knew we would be down here one day with you learning to be a wizard just like Ric. I am looking forward to see what kind wizard you will be.”
“Thanks, bud. I’ll try not to sleep too long.”
“Okay. Sleep well. It may be a while before we get to sleep again.” With those ominous, but fateful words, Merlin slipped off to a corner and I laid down. I was asleep nearly instantly.
Before I knew it, I was wide awake and looking into my grandfathers ELEPHANT eyes. The wisdom and love there was enough to blow my mind.
“Hey, Pops. I hope you haven’t been waiting too long for me to wake.”
“I actually just got here my boy. I think Merlin must have slowed time for you…I felt it come back to what passes for normal in here…”
“He did, Pops. Please don’t be upset with him!”
“I’m actually pleased he thought to do such a thing. Where is he?”
“I’m here, Ric, and I had to do something for the boy. He’d been reading for so long and only ate once. I know we will all need our strength if things are as they appear.”
Pops sighed. “They may be much worse, old friend. Ricky, my boy, you read all of what I laid out already?”
“You said I could read fast, so I did. I just slowed down if I needed to double check if I understood.”
“I am quite proud of you my boy. Now, I have one more book I just want you to look at. It’s symbols, and they may not make sense just yet. All I want you to do is store them for later. We will need them if we must go to war, but carrying the whole book will be impossible.”
“WAR?!!! What are you talking about?”
“Ricky, everything I’m seeing is pointing towards a splintering of our kind. I keep sensing darker magic more often than ever before. I’ve lived more lifetimes than you can imagine right now. Nothing like this has ever happened in my time. It feels like something very negative is coming, and I fear we must prepare to fight our own for the good of us all–wizard and mundane alike.”
“You said there are also witches. Are they just the female of our kind?
“Sort of, but not exactly, my boy. They worship gods and goddesses in ways we never have. Some rely more on objects or rituals to focus their workings than most of us.”
“So, if I understand right, the only thing we need to manipulate the world is our mind. Especially in the mundane world?”
“That’s exactly right, my boy.” Pops beamed with such pride. You’d think I’d just discovered the cure for some horrible disease!
“So why would it take war to stop whatever is going on? Can’t we just wizard this other problem person out of existence?”
“Not quite. If only it were that easy! But we are nearly immortal, my boy. It takes way more to kill one of us that most would believe. I’ll get you something to read about that next time. Right now, you should go back upstairs. The lawyer will be here to read my will soon and you can’t miss that. Once that’s over with, and everyone has stormed out, come back down. We’ll get on with your learning.”
“Sure Pops. I hope they don’t think I’ve been gone too long.”
“They won’t. To them, it will only seem like a couple of hours, at most. Now hurry on up there, I can hardly wait to see their faces!”
“You’ll be there too?”
“Oh, yes. This should be quite entertaining. But don’t let on that you see me. Or you’ll be put into a mental institution for sure!”
“Okay, Pops. See you upstairs, I guess.”
Upstairs was much quieter than even I expected. Mom was sitting in a chair by Pops old desk. Her husband was standing behind her holding on to the ornate dark wood chair. The lawyer was sitting behind the desk in Pops favorite char in the whole house probably. It was large, with big armrests and overstuffed for comfort.
“Well, I hate to be here like this today. Ric was one of my best clients and a dear friend. I miss him already. I would wait for the reading, but he insisted that this must be read within 12 hours of his passing. You’re his only two heirs?”
“As far as I know.” Mom piped up. “He never talked of any other family, which was odd but so much like him.”
“Okay,” said the lawyer. “Sit down Ricky, and we will get this over as soon as possible.”
I sat in the chair next to mom, though I moved it just a bit to the right. I can’t stand her husband. He’s a cheat and worse. But I try not to hurt mom so I tolerate him when I absolutely have to.
“Ric set up a video for you all to watch if necessary, but he wanted to me give you two the gist of his will first. Then, if either of you wants, I can put the video in.”
“Sure, Marty. Let’s just get this over with. I’m exhausted” Mom whispered. The toll of the past few days showed strongly in her face. Her lines had gotten much deeper and there were such dark circles under her eyes. It almost physically hurt me to see her this way.

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